4 Steps to Building an Effective Networking Program

It’s often been said that “starting is the hardest part” of a project. Well, building your business through networking and word-of-mouth marketing is no exception.

Here are four things you can do to get your networking program off to a strong start:

1. Don’t be a cave dweller: Get out and meet people!

2. Know how to ask for the referral. Learn and develop specific techniques that will help you hone your ability to ask for the referrals you want.

3. Consciously select at least three business or networking groups to join in the next three months (chambers of commerce, community service groups, trade associations, strong contact networks such as BNI, etc.).

4. Develop a creative incentive to encourage people to send referrals your way (If you’re a music store owner, for example, you might send music tickets to people who refer business to you).

The bottom line is this: Get out there and make diverse contacts, be specific in your approach, and help others in creative and enthusiastic ways so they’ll want to refer you business!

 What are some specific ways that you approach networking? . . . What tactics do you have for making diverse contacts and helping others creatively and enthusiastically?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’ll send a free, surprise gift to the first ten people who respond to these questions in the comment forum below.  In order to ensure that you receive your gift, be sure to e-mail larry@bni.com with the subject line “blog comment” and your full contact information [mailing address and phone number (your phone number is required by the shipping company in case they need to contact you in order to deliver your package)]–I assure you that your contact information will not be shared or used for any other purpose than to ship your gift to you. Thanks in advance for your participation–I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

 

7 Questions for Finding an Accountability Partner

Back when my son was a teenager, whenever I would ask him the dreaded question–“How’s that homework coming?”–I would receive the typical, teenage, roll-of-the-eyes response and the standard “I was going to finish it after dinner” answer.

Even if you don’t have kids, at one time you were a kid so I’m sure just about everybody can identify with this scenario.  Being held accountable for completing your homework as a kid was never fun, but let’s face it–when we’re held accountable for our actions, performance, and commitments it tends to heighten our awareness of what we are responsible for and what we have promised to do.

 

So it is with networking your business: accountability is important.  When you make a commitment to yourself to get out of your cave and attend productive networking functions, the reality is that sometimes other things come up and we forget those promises or push them to the back burner.  So why not find and accountability partner for networking your business?  That way, every time you commit to a new networking strategy, your accountability partner can keep you to the task.  Each week, perhaps by phone, meet with your accountability partner to identify your strategy for the week and because you have someone waiting to hear of your progress, you’ll be more inclined to focus on the task at hand.

To find the right accountability partner, ask yourself these questions:

1.  Who do I highly respect as a business colleague?

2.  Who would not be afraid to push me and keep me focused?

3.  Who would I never think of disappointing?

4.  Who is also interested in networking her business so that we can be accountability partners for each other?

5.  Who knows me–and my tendency to procrastinate?

6.  Who will follow through on this commitment to me?

7.  Who has the time to help me?

Think about it.  No one likes to knowingly disappoint someone else, and no one likes to waste her time or have her time wasted by someone else.  The urge to comply compels us to perform at a higher level and this leads to greater networking results.

Do you have a story about how someone held you accountable in a way that really benefited you?  If so, I’d love to hear about your experience so please share it in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Got Accountability?

While I was in Australia last month, I had the opportunity to speak with one of Australia’s most successful networkers, Brent Edwards, about the role accountability plays in networking.  Basically if you’re not maintaining accountability when networking, your efforts all boil down to one thing–a waste of time.

In this short video, Brent offers three simple keys to ensuring you maintain accountability in your networking efforts which will, in turn, build a solid foundation for networking success and the potential for limitless business growth through referrals.

 

Want to Achieve Networking Success with the Opposite Sex?–Advice for Women & Men

Last week I posted a summary of the conclusions my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I came to after surveying over 12,000 people and conducting months of research.  I promised that this week I would post advice for both women and men in achieving networking success with the opposite sex so below I’ve outlined some key tips Frank De Raffele, Hazel Walker, and I put together.

We Say . . .

We’re all trying to get to the same place.  It will be much more profitable for all of us if we can help each other along the way.  Here are a few things to guide your success in networking with the complementary gender:

For the Ladies

  • Don’t get stuck in the credibility phase of the VCP Process®.  Ask for what you want.
  • When asking for help, communicate clearly exactly what it is that you want.
  • Make time for networking.
  • When speaking to men, try to impress them and share your accomplishments.
  • When spoken to inappropriately, speak up about it immediately.
  • Dress for business at business events.
  • Put systems in place to track your business.
  • Stay in contact with and follow up on leads, referrals, and acquaintances made.
  • Diversify your networks.
  • Remember that networking is ultimately about getting business, so ask for both business and referrals.
  • Convey an image to others that you are a serious businessperson, in all that you do.
  • Get educated about referral systems.
  • Don’t lump all men into the same group.

For the Guys

  • Slow down and build the relationship.
  • Work through the VCP Process® in the proper order of its phases.  Don’t race through the credibility phase.
  • Make and maintain eye contact.
  • Listen and ask relational questions.
  • Don’t assume that women don’t take their business seriously.
  • Don’t hit on women at networking events.
  • Edit what you are about to say, using filters to sift out what is not business appropriate.
  • Stay in contact with and follow up on leads, referrals, and acquaintances made.
  • Stay informed about the best, most current, and cutting-edge networking practices.
  • Develop and use systems for your networking activities.
  • Make time for networking.
  • Speak to relate, not just to impress.
  • Remember that women are at networking events for business gain, just as you are.

The difference between the genders when it comes to networking is a great advantage, not a disadvantage.  By following the tips we have outlined above, you should be able to develop more productive relationships with members of both sexes.  Also, be sure to visit www.BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com if you would like to follow the latest developments on the subject of business networking and the genders.

Want More Business from Networking?–Watch This Video

I’ve been asked time and time again by people all over the world what I consider to be the key to getting more business through networking.  I can, without a doubt, say that there is, indeed, one thing you can do to get more business from your networking efforts.  Do you think you know what it is?  The answer may surprise you . . .

Watch the video and then take a minute to leave a comment if you have the time . . . I’d love to hear what some of your guesses were in regard to what the “secret” to getting more business through networking was going to be.  Chances are, some of the guesses you came up with are pretty good networking tactics as well and it would be great to get a conversation going about them!

Can Cultural Differences be Affecting Your Networking Success?

 

A few weeks ago, I spoke at an event in Israel and while I was there, I got to talking to my good friend Sam Schwartz about the very different networking styles and tendencies which occur from country to country.

It is very important to consider and respect cultural differences when networking and doing business in different countries across the globe and, in this short video, Sam and I discuss why it is important and how you can prepare yourself in order to achieve great networking results no matter where in the world you may be.

After watching the video, please share your own stories in the comments section about the differences in business and networking styles and tendencies you’ve observed when networking in various countries around the world.  Also, be sure to visit the following website which is a fantastic educational resource in regard to cultural differences: www.ExecutivePlanet.com.

Time Equals Money in Networking

The secret to getting more business through networking is . . . spend more time doing it! OK, well, it’s a little more complicated than that because you have to spend time doing the right things.  However, based on the recently completed Referral Institute study on business networking, we finally have a definitive answer about how the amount of time spent networking impacts the amount of business that is generated.

The most dramatic statistic I have found shows that people who said “networking played a role” in their success spent an average of 6.5 hours a week participating in networking activities. On the other hand, the majority of people who claimed that “networking did NOT play a role” in their success spent only 2 hours or less per week developing their network.

What does this mean? It means there is a direct correlation between the amount of time you devote to the networking process and the degree of success that you realize from it. To illustrate this further, there is a graph below which demonstrates the “average” percentage of business generated from someone’s networking efforts in comparison with the amount of time spent on networking activities.  Here you can clearly see that people who are spending between five to nine hours a week networking are generating (on average) 50 percent of their total business from this activity. 

People who spend, on average, more than 20 hours a week networking are getting almost 70 percent of their business through referrals.

Based on this study, it is clear that people who devote six hours a week or more to networking are generating a large percentage of their business through their efforts. So, it’s time to ask yourself . . . how much time are you spending developing your personal network and what kind of results are you starting to see?

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